Easington Coal Company began the sinking of Easington Colliery on April 11, 1899, with the first coals drawn in 1910.
A thriving community quickly grew up around the pit, with the rows of houses – known as the A and B streets – later immortalised in the film Billy Elliot.
Easington enjoyed a fine record of coal production over the next five decades, producing high quality fuel from seams many miles under the sea, until disaster struck on May 29, 1951.
It was at 4.45am, as the night men were at the end of their stint and the next shift was just starting, that a spark from a cutting machine ignited a pocket of gas in the five-quarter seam.
The blast generated a fire ball which smashed its way through 16,000 yards of underground workings.
The eventual death toll that day reached 83 – including two rescuers.
The pit was back in production by the time the final body was found on June 14, and a slab of stone from the explosion area was placed in cement to commemorate those who died.
Millions of pounds were spent on reconstructing the colliery after the tragedy and, in 1962, Easington became the first single pit in the coalfield to reach one million tonnes of saleable coal.
But, despite having an estimated 8.4million tons of reserves, the pit was earmarked for closure by British Coal and, in 1993, it became the last colliery of the Durham Coalfield to shut down.